Providence reverses course on moving Swedish Edmonds maternity operations to Everett

Swedish Edmonds

After announcing Wednesday that it was considering “temporarily” moving Swedish Edmonds childbirth and NICU operations to Providence Everett due to staffing challenges, Providence Swedish said Thursday it is no longer considering the idea.

Thursday’s decision by Providence Swedish not to pursue combining the two maternity centers came hours after the Public Hospital District No. 2 Board of Commissioners issued a press release stating its opposition to “the reduction of OB-GYN care and reproductive services at Providence-Swedish Edmonds Hospital.”

Public Hospital District No. 2 does business as the Verdant Health Commission. In 2010, the hospital district leased what was then the Stevens Hospital building to Swedish Health Systems, and it became Swedish Edmonds. In 2019, Swedish Healthcare was acquired by Providence and in April 2022 co-branded as Providence-Swedish Edmonds. Providence is a Catholic, not-for-profit organization founded by the Sisters of Providence in 1856.

“After listening and considering the impact, we have decided that we will not be temporarily relocating women’s services to Providence Swedish Everett,” said Darren Redick, chief executive of Providence Swedish North Puget Sound. “We are grateful for the engagement of Public Hospital District No. 2, our caregivers, and our medical staff during this process.”

Verdant Health Commission Superintendent Lisa Edwards said that the hospital commission’s vote Wednesday came after commissioners heard during its meeting from nearly two dozen Swedish Edmonds nurses and doctors who said they were opposed to combining the two maternity centers in Everett.

Randy Bourne, MD, an OB-GYN who has worked at Swedish Edmonds for 15 years, said in a separate interview Thursday that the Edmonds maternity center delivers between 100-110 babies a month — or about 1,300 a year. Swedish Edmonds serves a very diverse patient community, including those with limited financial means who would find it difficult to travel to Everett for maternity care, he added.

According to Bourne, when Swedish Providence in March 2020 closed the Edmonds maternity center for six weeks so it could be used for patients with COVID-19, it lost both patients and nurses who did not want to go to Everett.

Verdant Superintendent Edwards said Verdant took a stand on the issue because it has a responsibility to ensure residents in the hospital district’s service area — which includes Brier, Edmonds, Lynnwood, Mountlake Terrace, Woodway and parts of Bothell — have access to needed services. “That is what we are committed to doing,” she said. “That is the top priority.”

The Verdant news release also noted that Providence-Swedish is required, under the terms of its lease, to “seek approval from the hospital district commissioners prior to making any major decisions, including the elimination of lines of service at the hospital.” In addition, the release said the hospital district would be “exploring all legal avenues and other options available to ensure that Providence-Swedish honors the legal agreement that is in place for the operation of the hospital as well as their retention of medical services” provided to local residents.

Another concern raised by the hospital commission: The implications of moving Swedish Edmonds’ OB-GYN services to “a faith-based hospital.”

“In public discussion, the board was deeply concerned about the consolidation of these services as removing them from a public secular hospital in Edmonds and moving them to a faith-based hospital in Everett creates barriers to care for women and families in South Snohomish County,” said Verdant Health Commission Board President Jim Distelhorst, MD.

Dr. Bourne said that Swedish Edmonds does perform a small number of abortions, mainly those related to severe fetal anomalies or where the mother’s life might be in danger. As a Catholic health care organization, Providence does not provide nonemergency pregnancy termination, The Seattle Times reported.

— By Teresa Wippel with reporting from Bob Throndsen and Larry Vogel

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